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Congressman Joe Courtney

Representing the 2nd District of Connecticut

Courtney Statement On House Armed Services Committee Passage Of Fiscal Year 2020 Defense Authorization Bill and Third Submarine Funding

June 13, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, made the following statement today after voting for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the House Armed Services Committee. The FY20 NDAA was passed out of committee by a vote of 33-24. 

It's been an honor to lead the Seapower Subcommittee this year and assemble my first mark as leader of this bipartisan and productive panel,” Courtney said. “The bill we passed this morning includes a broad range of priorities important not just to eastern Connecticut but to our nation’s defense. In particular, I’m proud that the bill provides strong support for our submarine programs – particularly the third Virginia class submarine that helps close the looming gap in our undersea fleet. It was the Seapower subcommittee that first embarked on the path to the third submarine two years ago and it’s been a sometimes-difficult path to get this point. This bill is another critical step, along with the Senate Armed Services Committee’s NDAA and House defense appropriations bill, to put the third submarine in as strong a position as possible in this year’s budget debate.”

“This bill makes important investments in Connecticut’s defense manufacturing and aerospace industry, recognizing that our state punches well above its weight when it comes to giving our servicemembers the tools they need to protect our national security. The bill authorizes significant funds for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter, and VH-92A presidential helicopter – all of which have been awarded significant contracts in recent weeks and will ensure that Connecticut and its manufacturing sector will continue to play a key role in our national defense and our state’s growth in high-quality manufacturing jobs for years to come.”

Key provisions that Courtney championed in the 2020 NDAA: 

Seapower and Projection Forces Priorities  

As Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces, Courtney has advocated for Navy, Air Force and maritime priorities important to Connecticut and the nation. 

Virginia Class Submarine – The mark fully authorizes funding for two Virginia class submarines in 2020 and advanced procurement for additional submarines in 2021 and 2022. In addition, the measure authorizes resources to initiate a third submarine planned in FY2023 – fulfilling Courtney's bipartisan efforts over the last two years to expand production above the current two-a-year rate to mitigate looming shortfalls in the fleet. In addition to his work in the HASC-approved NDAA, Courtney has worked with leaders on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Armed Services Committee to secure funding for the third submarine as well.  

Columbia-Class Ballistic Missile Submarines – The bill fully authorizes the $1.6 billion requested for the development and design of the next-generation ballistic missile submarine. The bill also includes an additional $125 million Courtney secured for development of the submarine supplier base to shore up this critical supplier base in preparation for the growth in submarine construction work in the coming decade. 

Submarine Maintenance – The bill fully funds a $653 million unfunded request submitted by the Navy to complete much-needed depot-level maintenance on three Los Angeles-class submarines to ensure the readiness of our current submarine force. Two of these maintenance availabilities will be completed in private shipyards, an option Courtney has long pressed the Navy to take advantage of as our public shipyards are above capacity and private shipyards are ramping up for construction of the first Columbia class submarine. 

Long Range Strike Bomber – The bill fully supports the requested $3 billion for continued development of the B-21 Raider. Pratt & Whitney is a partner in the next-generation long range strike bomber program. 

KC-46A Tanker – The bill authorizes $2.2 billion for 12 KC-46A tanker aircraft, which are powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. 

C-130H Modernization – The measure continues Congressman Courtney’s efforts to accelerate the modernization of the C-130H cargo aircraft fleet, like those flown by the Connecticut Air National Guard. In addition to fully supporting the efforts to upgrade and modernize the avionics of the fleet, the bill authorizes $134 million for additional upgrades for engines, propellers and other systems on the aircraft beyond the President’s request.   

KMAX – The bill responds to an unfunded priority request from the Marine Corps by adding authorization for $18.5 million to continue development of unmanned logistics capabilities with the CQ-24A helicopter manufactured by Bloomfield-based Kaman Aerospace. 

Navy Shipbuilding -- Overall, the committee’s bill authorizes more than $22 billion to procure 11 battle force ships. The bill authorizes the procurement of three Virginia-class submarines, three DDG 51 Arleigh Burke destroyers, one Guided Missile Frigate, one LPD Flight II amphibious ship through incremental funding authority, one T-AO 205 oiler, and two T-ATS towing, salvage, and rescue ships. In addition, the mark restores funding for the refueling of the USS Harry S. Truman to allow the carrier to continue to contribute to our national defense over its full, 50-year service life. 

Recapitalization of our Domestic Sealift Capabilities – The bill includes several Courtney-led investments in the recapitalization of our domestic sealift and maritime response capabilities, responding to increasingly urgent testimony from leaders at the Maritime Administration and Transportation Command. The bill includes a long-term reauthorization of the Maritime Security Program, creation of a new Tanker Security Program to help secure our military’s fuel supply, and establishment of a new-build domestic sealift vessel program based on an existing design and well-established shipbuilding practice. This bill also rejects the Administration’s efforts to cut funding for the National Security Multi-mission Vessel (NSMV), a program Courtney helped to initiate in 2016 that is critical to training the pipeline of mariners needed to support our sealift capabilities. 

Improving Safety in the Maritime Sector – The bill includes a provision championed by Courtney to permanently establish the Maritime Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Committee (MACOSH). This committee makes recommendations to the Secretary of Labor on matters related to the health and safety of workers in the maritime sector, including shipbuilding, ship repair, and longshoring. The provision would mean that this important committee does not need to be reestablished every two years as previously structured.  

 

Additional Courtney priorities included: 

Joint Strike Fighter – The bill augments the Administration’s request by providing $8.5 billion for the procurement of 90 F-35s and includes additional flexibility to procure additional aircraft within the authorized amount if production savings are found.  

Blackhawks – The bill supports the requested $1.4 billion for 73 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, a significant increase over FY19. 

CH-53K – The bill authorizes $808 million for the new Marine heavy-lift helicopter, the procurement of 6 aircraft, and $497 million for continued research and development. 

Combat Search and Rescue Helicopter – The bill includes total funding of $1.1 billion for procurement of 12 aircraft and continued development of the HH-60W Air Force search and rescue helicopter. 

VH-92A Presidential Helicopter – The bill supports the Administration’s request for $658 million for procurement of 6 aircraft and continued development of the next-generation presidential helicopter as well as $8 million for upgrades in support of the existing Presidential Helicopter program.  

Pier Construction at New London Submarine Base — The bill includes $72.3 million to replace the aging Pier 32 at Naval Submarine Base New London. The new pier will be longer and wider that than the existing pier, allowing adequate space to fully support modern Virginia-class submarines and allow vehicle traffic to traverse the pier more safely.  

Sexual Assault at Military Service Academies – The bill includes a requirement for the military service academies to implement “safe to report” rules which allow sexual assaults victims to report their assaults without fear of being punished for minor collateral misconduct they may have committed. Courtney brought an amendment during committee markup to ensure that this provision applies to the US Coast Guard Academy in New London as well.  

Academic Partnerships for Undersea Research – The bill authorizes $10 million to support partnerships with academic institutions that conduct research on undersea unmanned warfare and energy technology, such as the National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technology, a collaborative program between the University of Connecticut and the University of Rhode Island. 

Ukraine – authorizes $250 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and includes a Courtney-requested evaluation of Ukraine’s naval capabilities which could be improved through further US assistance following Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian naval vessels and 24 Ukrainian sailors.  

Procurement Technical Assistant Program – The bill follows a Courtney request to increase support for Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) to $44.5 million from the requested level of $25 million. PTACs help small businesses understand and meet the requirements in order to do business with the Department of Defense. 

DOD Impact Aid – authorizes $50 million for the DOD supplemental impact aid program, which provides support to local school districts with high proportions of military children, including Groton public schools. This program is in addition to the primary Impact Aid program funded through the Department of Education, which does not fall within the jurisdiction of the House Armed Services Committee.

 

Other Notable Provisions 

 

Military Tenant Bill of Rights – The bill includes several provisions to improve oversight of privatized military housing, including a requirement that the military services have a tenant’s bill-of-rights. These rights would include a right to prompt provision of maintenance, information about known or potential hazards, and a prohibition on reprisal against a servicemember for filing a complaint about housing conditions. The bill would also ban the use of non-disclosure agreements in privatized military housing leases. 

BRAC – The bill does not authorize a base closing round. 

Military Pay Raise – The bill provides a 3.1% pay raise for the military, in line with a statutory requirement to keep pace with private sector wage growth. 

Climate Change Resiliency – The bill requires DOD to consider the potential effects of climate change on military installations in current and future military construction projects to ensure responsible energy use and resilience against possible future extreme weather events. 

Defense Community Infrastructure Program – Authorizes $50 million for the program, allowing DOD to help states and local governments fund off-base infrastructure projects that support operations and the base community. Infrastructure improvements could include transportation projects, schools, first responder facilities, and utility projects. 

Workforce Training – The bill includes two provisions to incentivize investments in workforce development by military contractors. The first would require the development of an incentive in military contracting for bidders who invest in qualified training programs for their workers. The second provision would incentivize military construction contractors to meet or exceed an apprenticeship employment goal of at least 10% of their project workforce. 

Reduce the Environmental and Health Risks of Fluorinated Compounds around Military Installations – The bill includes several provisions which restrict the release of fluorinated firefighting foam (which contain PFAS) at military installations except in cases of emergency or for designated testing or training, requires the DOD to develop an alternative to fluorinated firefighting foam by 2025, and allocates funding for research and remediation activities to limit environmental and personnel exposure to the compounds. 

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